Developer: Team Bread
Release Date: July 2, 2015
Platform: PC [Reviewed], Mac, iOS, Android
Price: $4.99 for PC and Mac, $2.99 for iOS and Android
Divide By Sheep is a new math-puzzle game published by tinyBuild (SpeedRunners, Fearless Fantasy) and developed by Team Bread. Instead of simple numbers, the game uses sheep as interesting platform for complex puzzles that require a math mind in order to solve. The core goal is to add or subtract sheep between platforms by tossing them back and forth, arriving at the predetermined number for each respective level.
The driving force behind goal is the Grim Reaper, who has grown lonely and and decided that he needs sheep in order to keep him company. The plot is introduced in a brief, dialogue-less cut-scene in the beginning of the the first world, gaining some steam as it’s slightly expanded upon as you progress the story. The plot doesn’t make much sense–but doesn’t really need to. The outlandish story of loneliness and brutality of sheep presented more then satisfies the needs of the game.
Throughout, the player goes through four worlds with 30-levels in each, with more worlds promised in future updates. Between each of these worlds in a noticeable set change, adding some diversity, while still holding the lighthearted, cartoon like style throughout. The look provides a nice contrast to the dark humor presented in Divide By Sheep, where a player will sometimes have to cut a sheep in half or sacrifice it to a wolf in order to move on. These dark mechanics aren’t without their own visual flair either, with gore flying across the screen as each sheep is cut in half.
A nice addition to see with all the gore is the ability for parents to turn off gore if their kids wish to play the game, allowing audiences of all ages to share in the mind turning fun.
While traversing the puzzles of Divide By Sheep, cheerful music is played in the background, further adding the contrast between lighthearted playfulness, and grim humor. However, the soundtrack becomes redundant within each world, seeing only a major change in the loop between tracks for each respective area. While it isn’t uncomfortable to listen to, there was all too many times I found myself muting the game completely. Which is a bit of a downside considering the time spent deciphering each puzzle or area.
Divide By Sheep is fun and challenging, with new, fresh mechanics to cause players to continually think outside of the box. The difficultly curve is perfect, starting very simple and introducing new mechanics gradually, letting the player feel a sense of progression. Each level completed sends a rush of endorphins to the brain, being the driving force behind solving just one more puzzle. However, this seems to be the only driving force.
While each puzzle is fun and new mechanics are introduced, it isn’t always enough to keep you hooked. This is largely due to the intended audience of the game. While available on Steam, Divide By Sheep plays much better as mobile game where the force behind playing is simply boredom. Sitting in front of a monitor, there is no real reason to continue playing. Unless that need is violence by sheep, then by all means.
The look provides a nice contrast to the dark humor presented in Divide By Sheep, where a player will sometimes half to cut a sheep in half or sacrifice it to a wolf in order to move on.
Another fault is the oversimplification in the game, with no text boxes or dialogue to introduce new mechanics. Each concept in the game is shown in a series of pictures which seems to be to help a player, but ultimately hurts them. This might play well for the mobile user audience that has limited access to time, however, it hurts in the case of the PC market. This emphasis on time is synonymous with the time spent solving each problem.
Many of puzzles become trial and error until the newest mechanics are understood, which could turn off a player who is looking to jump right into the fun. While no one jumping in wants to read a novel on every aspect of the game, a couple sentence introduction to new concepts would benefit the player, storyline, and add a small hint of depth.
A great feature that was sadly overlooked was the inclusion of a help button for puzzles the may stump some player beyond the point of fun. It’s tragic this wasn’t an included feature, seeing as it would be so easy to implement, having the core of the game based around simple arithmetic. Even for the younger player audience in which the game seems to target most times, it would have been beneficial.
The Bottom Line:
Divide By Sheep is a fun and refreshing take on puzzle games, with adding and subtracting sheep to achieve a very straight forward goal. The gameplay is spot on with the humor and there is the potential to have hours of fun with it. However, this is an experience better enjoyed in your pocket then on your PC. I never felt a driving force behind playing it on PC, whereas it made much more sense as a game enjoyed on the go.
You can check out the tinyBuild website here.